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Stanley Forman.

Stanley Forman, in April 1976, was a photographer for the Boston Herald American. One day he came upon the assault of Theodore Landsmark, a black, Yale-educated lawyer, who got caught in an antibusing rally on his way to an affirmative action meeting at Boston's City Hall. One of the photos Forman took that day of the assault showed a white teenager from South Boston appearing to spear Landsmark with an American flag. The photo won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize and became an iconic image of race struggles in the United States.

This year Louis P. Masur's book about that photograph, "The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America," has been published by Bloomsbury. In it, Masur explores the power of Forman's photo and why it stuns so many viewers years after it was taken. He writes about the technical aspects of the photo--its composition, contrast, movement--and how the historical and cultural place where the assault happened heightens the impact of the photo. He also traces what became of the people in the photograph, including Forman.

In an article written by James Ralph in the Chicago Tribune, Masur says that the photo caught "an instant of unthinkable racial hatred" and caused "turmoil and self-scrutiny." But, Masur continues, it also eventually led "to progress and healing." And in one of the more intriguing aspects of the photo, Ralph writes, "the drama captured is more complex than commonly understood. Not only did Rakes [the teenager] never actually strike Landsmark with the flag, but one of the white men who seemed to be attacking the black lawyer was actually James Kelly--trying to halt the beating."

Forman is a cameraman for the ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV, in Boston. Among other awards, he has received three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1976 for Spot News Photography, in 1977 for "The Soiling of Old Glory," and in 1979 for Feature Photography when the staff of the Boston Herald American were honored for their coverage of a 1978 blizzard.

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Author:Fiore, Loise
Publication:Nieman Reports
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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